Air lobby IATA receives 20 million for a stay in Montreal

There is nothing to stop the International Air Transport Association (IATA) from cutting its Quebec workforce by about 10% in four years, even if the airline lobby receives 20 million in subsidies to maintain its presence in Montreal.

Updated yesterday at 17:54.

Julien Arseno

Julien Arseno

Less than a year after announcing its intention to abandon the metropolis in favor of Geneva, where another head office is located, the organization changed its tune after talks with Quebec and Ottawa.

The agreement, reached with two government orders that will contribute 10 million each over the next decade, obliges IATA to maintain the current level of 250 staff, including in the areas of law, finance and information for the next four years. After that, nothing will stop reducing the workforce by 25 positions.

“These are jobs that make an extraordinary contribution to Montreal,” said Foreign and Foreign Minister Nadine Giraud at a news briefing Monday at the organization’s office, which represents about 290 airlines.

Accompanied by Pascal St. Onge, Chairman of the Economic Development Agency of Canada, IATA Director General Willy Walsh and Montreal International President and CEO Stephen Pake, Giraud has formalized an agreement reached with the airline’s lobby.

IATA is headquartered in Montreal on the Tour de la Borse, in the city center, near the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Last year, the Association announced its intention to relocate to Geneva. According to the gentleman, this was not a Giro. The head of IATA agreed, saying that health restrictions weighed.


Willie Walsh, Director General of the International Air Transport Association

“We felt that the division of labor between the two offices was inefficient,” Walsh said. This was especially true during quarantine during the pandemic. This made business extremely difficult. »

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, IATA has repeatedly criticized the Trudeau government for adhering to health care protocols that the organization considers too strict, while other countries are providing assistance.

The Quebec City and Ottawa grants will essentially be used to preserve the achievements of IATA in Montreal. The top management of the organization will remain in Switzerland. Mr. Walsh’s only promise is to visit the metropolis more often, as health regulations allow.

To preserve the head office, governments often find themselves between wood and bark, says Jan Simon, a professor at the Department of Management at Laval University. The latter are forced to play the game of international organizations in conditions of fierce competition.

“Many places are hesitantly looking for mechanisms or financial incentives to attract offices of this size,” he said. Montreal has the advantage of having an excellent ecosystem with ICAO, but the impact of international competition cannot be ignored. »

IATA, which has about 1,400 employees, has already cut about 10% of its international workforce as part of the restructuring.

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    In addition to Montreal, IATA has offices in six other cities around the world.